Good leadership always makes a difference; unfortunately, so does bad leadership. This leadership truth continues as we will be talking about the seventh, eighth, and ninth of John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.”
Respect Must Be Earned
Many people, when first put in a management role, think that now that they have some power and a title, respect also comes with the deal. “I’m the boss so my people must respect me, right?” These same people very quickly discover just how wrong they are. I have stressed numerous times while discussing the earlier laws that the title does not make the leader; the leader makes the title. People don’t follow others by accident; they follow individuals whose leadership they respect.
Looking in the mirror, ask yourself these five questions:
- Who chooses to follow me?
- Does the answer reflect my perceived leadership level?
- Will people respond positively if I request a commitment or change?
- Do I have the qualities as a leader that earn respect?
- Do those closest to me respect me?
If your answer to all of these is a resounding yes, then you are well on your way to becoming a great leader. If you answered no to any of them, fear not. Respect can be earned.
The six steps to earning respect are very simple, but as with most things the devil is in the execution:
Step 1: Have respect for others. People won’t respect someone who does not respect them.
Step 2: Courage. Have the courage to do the right thing, not the easy thing.
Step 3: Success. People naturally like to follow winners.
Step 4: Consistency. Nothing comforts people more than demonstrating consistency in everything you do as a leader.
Step 5: Add value to others. As we are learning throughout the 21 laws of leadership, helping others succeed is the fastest way to our own success.
Step 6: Pure leadership ability. Not all great leaders are born that way; but some are, and people can sense when this is a natural condition.
Everyone possesses intuition, however, not everyone is intuitive in leadership. What we “sense” as a leader has a direct correlation to the degree of our leadership ability, or remembering our first law, our Leadership Lid.
“Who you are dictates what you see.” —John C. Maxwell
The best leaders are those who have mastered “situational leadership,” adjusting their leadership style to best fit the current situation. A leader must read a situation and instinctively know what play to call. Unfortunately, intuition cannot be learned; what you are born with is all you get. However, you can learn to be more aware of the constraints and factors impacting a situation, and experience will teach lessons learned to improve your decisions going forward.
Let’s test your intuition; look at Figure 2 and describe what is happening in this situation.
The person on the right is obviously the person in charge and is counseling an employee on something, right? Actually, the leader is the one on the left and is listening to their follower talk about something important. Great leaders listen more than they talk.
Magnetism: Who You Are is Who You Attract
I’ve shared an example from one of my clients in a past column on Lean about a small custom manufacturing shop run by an ex-Navy commander. What I didn’t share in the previous article was that most of his management staff was also ex-military. We attract who we are and surround ourselves with like-minded people. If you are unhappy with your career (or life), change who makes up your inner circle and be true to who you are, or want to become. When I am working with a client’s leadership team, training on the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the first thing I do is have each member complete a self-assessment of what they feel are their leadership strengths. I tuck this away and a few sessions later I have them write down the attributes they look for when hiring a new person for their team. Then I pull out their self-assessment for comparison and have never had less than an 80% match between the two.
We Attract Who We Are
Now this is not the same as hiring a bunch of “yes men/women”; that dynamic is never a trait of great leaders. When I talk about magnetism I’m talking about things like your core values, social contract, integrity, and ethics. Surround yourself with people who believe what you believe but think differently.
There are three common categories of attraction:
- Who you are is who you attract. Magnetism can be generational or attraction by generation.
- Most organizations, groups, companies, and even departments attract individuals of similar age. This is attracting from background.
- Personal circumstances and experiences that shape somebody’s life. This is attracting from attitude.
By now you should be noticing several recurring leadership themes:
- Add value to others.
- Being successful starts with helping others be successful.
- Leadership is influence.
- A manager does things right, a leader does the right thing.
These are foundational principles behind all 21 laws and should start becoming second nature as we continue through this leadership journey together.
This column originally appeared in the July 2021 issue of PCB007 Magazine.